Dig the Kid
We Will Be Lions
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Cafe du Nord
Sounds like: Tripping out to an octopus's benthic coral maze in the shade.
Brennan, Derek, Jordan, Julian, Kendall, and particularly Alex welcomed everyone to their merchandise booth with a hospitality one might attribute to their Stillwater, Oklahoma roots or to a globally waning sense of human decency.
Lit by the preternatural light of the human skeleton feet LEDs he and other band members lugged all the way from the Sooner State, Deerpeople guitarist Alex chatted gamely about hungover Swan Oyster Depot breakfast, the eerie culture void of Salt Lake City, and an (modern usage, non-pejorative) Okie's hyped-and-confirmed appreciation for San Francisco joie de vivre. Their tour van broke down in Salt Lake City, he explained, but they trekked on to San Francisco and felt well-rewarded.
The six-person ensemble rallied onstage and produced textures that could have been made by 16 people: Layered motifs, bursts of amplitude, subito tempo changes, tasteful voice thinning, and a drummer that hit my syncopation G-spot more than once. It sucked me in almost as much as their ridiculously endearing use of flute.
The elderly gentleman behind me shouted hoarsely, "You guys got it goin' on! You got the spirits!" He clearly believed only metaphysical inspiration could produce one track that outlined the intersection between Brazilian elevator music from the '70s and The Pixies on a rather colorful troop of psilocybin caps. I would cite excellent musicianship and visionary taste, but I can't disprove the input of "the spirits."
Deerpeople did suffer some levels issues (perhaps the fault of Cafe du Nord). They lost their violin almost entirely, and the charming flute accompaniment of Pikachu-shirt Kendall sank beneath the waves of Alex's elegant distortion. Fortunately, from the moment they hauled their equipment onstage to the puzzling blare of a Spanish rendition of "Without You," I knew their performance would not cause me the same distress as Dig the Kid.
To be fair, Dig the Kid's audience loved them. Truly loved them. On the other hand, the band--Cory, Lisa, and Ian--acknowledged that all their parents (and even one grandmother) had crossed the Bay Bridge from Oakland to attend their show. Where Deerpeople's audience sported gleaming afros, flannel, cat eyeliner, linen dusters, backpacking satchels, and blue highlights, Dig the Kid's adoring fans trended towards baseball caps and cutoff jeans.
Of course there's nothing wrong with baseball caps and cutoff jeans, except for the clear correlation between the diversity of the audience and the diversity of the music they craved.
I applauded the multi-instrumental capability of the three performers, their energy, the cute gimmick of drumming on a water-soaked floor tom, and Lisa's strong female presence.
The other edge of the sword cut less keenly. The family fun accessibility of the music erred on the side of the soundtrack to a family barbecue. The sexy island groove of their track "Madagascar" reeked of a Nickelodeon-themed child's birthday, complete with a bounce house. The O-face grimaces atop the high school prom outfits lingered only slightly more bitter on the palate than the ubiquitous bouncing of the six-year-old "more cowbell!" joke amongst the audience.
The following description from their website perturbs me even more: "[Dig the Kid] set out to create a musical format that would be treated like a blank canvas allowing their catalog of music to sound more like a play list rather than any particular genre. The result of this effort aims to attract as many listener demographics as possible."
Translation: "this derivative blend of corn flakes, rice puffs, shredded wheat, and high fructose corn syrup targets all walks of American consumers." I might be amenable to allowing a coddled niece or nephew with musical taste of incipient complexity to bring their teenage friends to a Dig the Kid show. Would I recommend Dig the Kid's shows to my peers? No.
We Will Be Lions certainly set their targets higher than a "blank canvas wide demographic playlist." The San Francisco-based quartet channeled a hypothetical marriage of David Byrne and Tears for Fears, their glampop polished to a high sheen.
The audience proved sparse and unenthused, perhaps due to a time slot too early in the night for the Church-Market crowd to get their dance on. Much to my delight, We Will Be Lions still exuded the sinuous energy of David Bowie hosting a bisexual ménage à trois beneath a disco a ball.
Stay abreast: ride with those Okies. They can take you to amazing places.